Installing a pebble floor in your bathroom or shower might be a brilliant choice – or it might become the bane of your cleaning routine. Before committing to a new build or renovation, you should be sure this is the floor that will be best for you and your family for years to come. Knowing that, let’s look at pebble shower floor pros and cons.
Pebble shower floors are easy to install, affordable, and slip-resistant. They are also beautiful and provide a nice massage for your feet. However, they are also relatively short lived and high maintenance. They use a lot of grout and can hold onto water, making them difficult to clean. If you have hard water, pebble floors are not a good choice.
Keep reading to learn all about the pros and cons of pebble shower floors and learn if they’ll be good for your home!
Pebble shower floor pros and cons
Pebble shower floors have shot up in popularity in the last decade or so – even my mother-in-law put them in her showers when she renovated her bathrooms several years ago. They’re less expensive than tile, fit in perfectly with a variety of design styles, and are a mainstay on several popular HGTV programs.
Not quite trendy, but more than old-fashioned, this floor can add texture, color, or both to your bathroom. But is it for you?
Check out the pros and cons of pebble shower floors and decide for yourself!
|Beautiful||Hard to clean|
|Affordable||Unsuitable for hard water|
|Slip resistant||Can be slippery if installed improperly|
|Doesn’t scratch or wear out easily||Less durable than other shower floors|
|Wide variety available||High maintenance|
|Easy to install||Special skills may be needed for the installation|
|Comfortable for most people||Can be uncomfortable for some|
|Uses a lot of grout|
Still not sure? I’ll break down all of these pros and cons so you can have all the information before making a decision.
More interested in caring for the pebble floor you already have? Don’t worry! I’ve included a cleaning guide at the bottom of the article.
Pros of a pebble shower floor
Pebble shower floors have the kind of persistent popularity that makes them not-quite trendy in the best way. It’s fine to decorate your home with of-the-moment art or pick up the countertop appliance that it seems like all the cool influencers are using, but your large purchases should be relatively timeless.
Think of it like this: most people will paint a wall during their time as homeowners, and many people may replace or upgrade a faucet, but most people will never replace their countertops. The same is true for your bathroom flooring so you want to make sure the one you get is the best for you and your family.
The pros of pebble shower floors include:
- Slip resistant
- Doesn’t scratch or wear out easily
- Wide variety available
- Easy to install
Let’s look at each of these in more detail.
A pebble tile shower floor can stand out or blend in, depending on your design preferences. You can even choose to take the design feature all the way up your walls!
The varied hues, uneven surface, and matching grout color create one of the most beautiful and naturalistic effects for a shower floor. If you enjoy a natural atmosphere in your house and prefer simplicity, pebbles won’t disappoint.
If you want your bathroom to exude relaxing, spa-like vibes without blowing your entire budget on teak, small pebbles in a light, neutral color range can help give you the bathroom of your dreams.
If you’re looking for something more attention-getting, go for large pebbles with high contrast (think black and white) and a vibrant color on the walls.
When it comes to home projects, DIY isn’t always cheaper. In this case, however, you don’t need a lot of specialty equipment.
To install a pebble shower floor, you’ll need the pebbles (typically sold in 12″ x 12″ mesh squares), grout, thinset, sealant, and a few basic tools. With pebble flooring costing $4-8 square foot and the larger stone option coming in at more like $7 per square foot.
Good quality tile is likely to cost $3-15 per square foot, putting pebble sheets in the low-to-mid price range.
Additionally, since the pebbles are glued to an easy-to-cut mesh, you don’t need an expensive tile cutter.
With the prevalence of bathroom accidents and severe injuries resulting from slippery floors, a floor that’s naturally slip resistant is a huge plus for safety.
Pebble flooring is a collection of stones of various shapes and sizes securely lodged in the ground with grout and a sealant used between the rocks to improve traction. As a result, you will not slip easily on pebble flooring.
Nonetheless, wearing rubber footwear, such as crocs and flip-flops, minimizes the risk of falling on pebble floors even further.
Doesn’t scratch or wear out easily
If you dump something weighty on the pebble floor, you may damage one or two stones that require slight repair, but that’s about it.
You don’t have to stress about the surfaces of pebble tiles or genuine pebbles scratching or wearing because they’re essentially rocks in your bathroom. This floor will likely never need a replacement, but you’ll need to do simple repairs like reapplying sealant.
Moreover, pebble floors are non-porous, meaning they will not collect water and stains like other materials. It makes them of use in reducing mildew and mold growth in moist places like showers.
If you’re worried about losing out on design options if you choose pebbles over traditional tiles, don’t be!
Pebble flooring comes in a huge variety of sizes, colors, and color combinations.
Depending on your aesthetic preferences, it’s likely you can find pebbles that work with your style.
Easy to install
Laying a pebble floor requires less expertise than installing other types, like teak shower floors.
Assuming you have a basic understanding of how to work with thinset mortar and grout, arranging the pebble sheets so they look random is the biggest part of installing a pebble shower floor.
If you’re confident in your tile-laying skills, this is a great project for a long weekend!
Comfortable for most people
Walking barefoot on stones can be therapeutic.
The stones stimulate specific reflexogenic spots on the soles of your feet. To get the full effect, use rounder pebbles that appear more natural than square ones.
The comfort you get from pebble shower floors depends on the sensitivity of your feet.
Embarking on a bathroom reno? Check out the pros and cons of an upflush toilet.
Cons of a pebble shower floor
Of course, pebble shower floors aren’t without their issues. When making a decision about the kind of flooring you want for your shower and bathroom, it’s important to know everything about your potential options.
The cons of pebble shower floors include:
- Hard to clean
- Unsuitable for hard water
- Can be slippery
- Less durable than other shower floors
- High maintenance
- Special skills may be required for the installation
- Can be uncomfortable for some
- Uses a lot of grout
Let’s look at each of these in more detail.
Hard to clean
While they look great, pebble tile shower floors are more difficult to clean than other options, especially pre-fabricated shower stalls.
The texture and variation of the pebbles may look great, but that’s exactly what makes the floor difficult to clean. The nooks and crannies of the stones can hold water, mildew, and even mold in ways you’re unlikely to experience with traditional smooth tiles.
You may also have issues keeping light-color pebbles looking clean, although this is true of most flooring types.
Unsuitable for hard water
Hard water has more-than-usual amounts of calcium and magnesium. It’s not a health risk, but many people choose to treat their water nonetheless.
If your area has hard water, you’re likely to be dealing with calcium buildup in your pipes, but you’ll also see the effects on your pebble floor. The hard water will leave a thin chalky layer on the pebbles and will require regular intense cleaning.
All in all, it’s better to avoid pebble tile shower flooring unless you live in an area with soft water or are treating yours as it enters the house.
Can be slippery
One of the major selling points of the pebble shower is that it is naturally slip resistant. However, this isn’t always true.
Polished pebbles can become slippery when wet, especially if the grout is not properly installed. Additionally, floors that aren’t properly cleaned can develop a thin, slick layer of mildew.
While pebble floors are less likely to be slippery than other tile options, any slip in the bathroom can be incredibly dangerous.
Less durable than other shower floors
Not only do pebble floors require extra cleaning, they also need regular maintenance because that very cleaning can wear down the grout and sealant.
Pebble floors have more grout exposed than usual because of the inconsistent shape of the pebbles. You’ll need to reapply the sealant every 2-5 years.
With proper maintenance, a pebble shower floor can last up to 20 years before it needs significant repairs.
Cleaning and maintaining pebble floors are demanding.
We’ve mentioned the additional cleaning requirements and the need to reseal the floor every couple of years, but you’ll also want to take the time to wipe down your tiles after each use.
If you’re the kind of person who wants to get in and out of the shower, chances are the extra work required to keep the pebble shower tiles in good condition will be a dealbreaker for you.
Special skills may be required for the installation
As mentioned in the pros category, installing a pebble tile floor is relatively simple, but that’s really only when compared to installing other floor types.
Thinset mortar is the pivotal base that ensures the floor below your tile is protected from any moisture that may make it through the porous grout and pebbles. Failing to properly lay the mortar, mesh tiles, or grout can lead to costly damage.
If you’re not completely confident in your abilities in this area, you might be better off paying a professional to do the floor. You can always save money by doing the finishing touches like installing the shower head or painting the walls.
Can be uncomfortable for some
Pebbles can be comfortable for many people, but people with sensitive feet may not enjoy the experience.
The uneven surface of pebble bathroom floors can be unpleasant if you have foot issues like plantar fasciitis.
You may want to choose a different type of flooring if you have foot pain, or at least wear comfortable shoes whenever possible.
Uses a lot of grout
Grout is not exactly the most expensive part of your installation, but it can certainly add up!
Pebble shower floors use significantly more grout than standard square or rectangle tiles because of their inconsistent shapes. More grout requires better DIY skills, creates more spaces that will eventually need to be scrubbed, and will pull extra dollars out of your budget.
In the end, how much of a con this is for your will depend on which of these issues will potential affect you the most.
Is a pebble shower floor hard to clean?
Cleaning a pebble shower floor is relatively simple, but it can require some serious elbow grease.
To keep your pebble shower floor in good condition, you’ll need to clean it:
- Daily – Dry the shower floor immediately after each use.
- Weekly – Clean the floor once a week to avoid a build-up of body oils and soap residue. White vinegar can be used to remove hard water stains.
- As necessary – If you notice white spots forming, wipe them down with a bit of white vinegar on a cloth.
As mentioned previously, you should also expect to need to reapply sealant every 18 months to five years.
Do pebble shower floors need sealing?
Sealing your pebble shower floor is vital in keeping it looking good for years.
Most brands recommend sealing the pebble tiles before grouting them. You’ll also need to plan on reapplying the sealant every 18 months to 5 years.
Use a high-quality sealant. It’s not worth it to pinch pennies here!
How do you clean a natural stone pebble shower floor?
Natural stone requires some special cleaning techniques, although you have a great variety of cleaning options to choose from.
Pick one of these options for cleaning your natural stone pebble shower floor:
- DIY cleaner
- Steam cleaner
- Mild detergent
- Commercial cleaner
Wondering which one is best? It’s really up to you!
If you prefer not to use intense chemicals in your cleaning, or if you just don’t want a closet full of cleaners, try making your own.
To clean your pebble shower floor with a DIY vinegar solution, you should:
- Fill a clean spray bottle with 1 cup of water mixed with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar.
- Spray the solution on the pebble floor and wait several minutes to allow it to remove hard water deposits, soap scum, and other residue.
- Wipe down the floor, paying special attention to the corners.
- Rinse the shower.
- Allow it to dry.
The steam cleaning approach removes soap scum from pebble shower floors.
To steam clean your pebble floor:
- Wet and pre-clean the floor using the DIY solution mentioned previously or another cleaner.
- Use a handheld steam cleaner at an angle and 3 to 6 inches above the pebble surface to remove old grime and dirt.
- Rinse your floor with water and allow it to dry for a few minutes. The procedure cleans your pebble floor thoroughly, removing all soap scum and filth.
If you don’t have a steam cleaner, the Bissell Steamshot is perfect for cleaning small spaces (great for grout!) and sanitizing without chemicals.
Mild detergents will work well to clean the pebbles and grout, although more intense cleaners such as ammonia may damage the flooring.
To clean a pebble shower floor with a mild detergent:
- Combine 1/4 cup of vegetable-based detergent with warm water.
- Apply the mixture to the floor and scrape it with a bristle brush.
Because there is no sanitizing element to this cleaning routine, the results won’t last as long as others on this list.
You can use commercial cleaners designed for tiles and natural stones to clean natural stone pebble shower floors.
Be sure to read the manufacturer’s directions carefully before applying the cleaner to your floor. Some commercial cleaners are not appropriate for natural materials or porous stones.
Avoid poisonous cleaners since they will harm your floor.
Summary of the pros and cons of pebble shower floors
The type of shower floor you choose will affect your daily routine for years to come.
Pros include the wide variety of options available and generally beautiful results. If you have the skills, this floor is affordable and relatively easy to install. It’s also naturally slip resistant and will wear well if cared for properly.
Unfortunately, these floors can also be hard to clean and do require regular maintenance as the sealant will need to be reapplied every several years. The installation requires a lot of grout and may require a professional if you aren’t already a skilled DIY-er. Unless you’re willing to do even more cleaning, you may want to avoid this floor type if you live in an area with hard water.
While the pebble floors feel good on most people’s feet, it can be painful for those with existing foot pain.
Whether the pros of these floors outweigh the cons will depend on your expected usage, shower style, and cleaning routine.
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